"One of Southern California's most interesting local races in the runup to the election is taking place in San Bernardino's third Supervisorial District, where Democrat James Ramos is working to unseat incumbent Republican Neil Derry. Though after attending a "meet-and-greet" with Ramos in Joshua Tree this week, it looks to me as though Ramos isn't all that comfortable with his own party affiliation.
The meeting, held Monday evening at a restaurant in downtown Joshua Tree, attracted about 75 people. Discussion was contentious, and the candidate fielded some pointed questions. Or tried to field them, anyway. Locals came to the meeting with a number of concerns, chief among them a casino being proposed for east of downtown by the 29 Palms band of Mission Indians. Those in attendance also asked questions about a nearby proposed dollar store, the Cadiz water project, and general issues about representation for residents in the unincorporated community.
Ramos did deflect a direct question as to whether he supported the casino, telling the crowd that his background -- he's former chairman of the San Manuel band of Serrano Indians, operators of a large casino in Highland -- didn't determine his stand on the issue. "I'm not automatically in favor of the casino just because I'm a Native American," Ramos said. "It doesn't work that way." But pressed for a more definitive position, Ramos went utterly noncommittal. "It depends what the community wants," he said."
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